Why to explore Brunei?
Located on the north coast of the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia, Brunei is a sovereign state covering less than 7000 km2. In spite of its small are Brunei is a paradise for scientists studying biodiversity of the rain forest. Several large national parks hold undisturbed primary forest that have nearly never been cut. There is a huge diversity of plant and animal species and there is always a good chance to discover something new.
All expeditions are executed in the framework of WWTF project “Voluntary Self-Sacrifice in Exploding Ants: a mechanism to defend co-evolved microbiomes?”. The project is focused on mechanisms by which organisms compete for territory and resources are key processes in ecology. The main organists of the study are carpenter ants from the Camponotus (Colobopsis) cylindricus complex (‘COCY’, or exploding ants). These ants dominate arboreal habitats in rain forests on Borneo and have evolved a so-far unique and remarkable behavior: In territorial combat with enemy ants and other arthropods they sacrifice themselves by rupturing (autothysis) and releasing sticky and irritant contents of their hypertrophied mandibular glands to kill rivals.
From 2011 to 2017 7 sampling expeditions were made to this region.
The project is sponsored by the Wiener Wissenschafts-, Forschungs- und Technologiefonds (Vienna Science and Technology Fund) is a non-profit organization established to promote science and research in Vienna.
Keywords: ants, phylloplane microbiome, co-evolution, genomics, metagenomics, proteomics, autothysis, tropical rain forest, phyllosphere, taxonomy